Children Of Sex Workers Are Anonymously Sharing Their Stories, And They Held Nothing Back
"She told me she had a cleaning business."
Sons and daughters of sex workers are sharing their thoughts on their parents' jobs in a viral thread on Reddit — and the stories offer a fascinating perspective that we don't hear often.
Read on for some of the top-voted responses from users.
And just a note before we start: Every sex worker's story is different. Some get into the industry because they have a passion for it, others do it out of financial necessity. Some workers can stay 100% safe on the job, while others may take on risks. The following stories are the experiences of individuals and shouldn't be seen as representations of the industry or its workers as a whole.
1. "My mother didn't walk the streets, but she slept with men when we needed money or food. She hid it pretty well. We always thought these men were being nice and just giving us money. Now that I look back on it, it all makes sense. She passed 10 years ago and I am thankful to her for it."
2. "My mom doesn't do it anymore. Anything she did in the past is absolutely none of my business. I'm not one to judge. It is what it is. I still love my mom regardless."
3. "I'm not the son, but the grandson. She did sex work when she was younger. When I knew her, she was a strong Christian and I didn't find out about that part of her past until I was older. ... Times were tough. She did what she had to do to support her kids on her own, and when she found true love, she left it all behind and built a family."
4. "Mom was a porn star in the '70s and '80s...did stuff with Ron Jeremy and the like. ... It was always a very taboo thing growing up, but my dad tried to prepare us for bullies at school, due to the town being fully aware of what she did. No bullies."
5. "I am a son of a sex worker and I've literally seen it all growing up. I can remember being left in a trap house and my mom telling me she'd be back in a few hours. ... Little did I know she wouldn't be coming back for a few days. I can vividly remember eating stuffed Oreos for days and hating them. ... Out of all the crazy shit I've seen because of her, I still feel sorry for her and love her just like I did when I was little. I truly don't hold any resentment for her actions anymore. I forgive her. Though she put me through a lot, I wouldn't wish any negative energy upon her."
6. "I think my mother did it because that was the quickest path to a better life, and I’m not embarrassed by it. She was from a very poor family in Seoul, so it would’ve been impossible for her to claw her way out of poverty. ... My mother did what she felt she had to, and I love and miss her."
7. "Mom was a sex worker growing up. Honestly, I had no idea, she always told me she had a cleaning business at night. I wholeheartedly had no idea until some asshole guys in my high school stumbled on her profiles on a site and spread it around. A couple months later, she was in the local newspaper because she got caught. To this day, I don’t think she knows that I ever found out."
8. "When someone says 'I fucked your Mom!' I reply, 'Yeah, I know dipshit, you put me through college.'"
9. "I feel like she did what she had to do to take care of her two boys as a single mother. I don't even feel shameful about it. I still love and adore her memory. I am thankful she was willing to sacrifice her body so we could have clothes and food. All things considered, she was an amazing woman who taught me about the world and definitely shaped my personality."
10. "I used to hate my mom for never being there with us or sharing family time, but nowadays I understand why. I had everything: roof, AC, food, the popular toys and video games. Sometimes I cry because of how confused I was back in the day, and now everything makes sense. She didn't graduate school, she didn't have work experience...she did it for us. She's a bit old now, my brother is helping her financially and taking care of her. She's dating someone too, and I can see in her eyes that she's finally living the life she always wanted."
12. "We never went hungry, we always had shelter, and our clothes were in good shape. She had a drug habit, which she dropped the moment the state took us away, but she never actually let it get in the way of the basics. Last she had anything to do with it was when she collected her five-year chip from Narcotics Anonymous and just left the whole thing behind."
13. "My mother was a porn star. For the most part, I can kind of accept that it was what it was and that it's always gonna be this weird fact about her. I did resent her for it when I was younger, as a lot of kids in school would often berate me for it. But these days, I've kind of made my peace with it."
14. "Not my mother, but my grandma. She struggled pretty hard in her days, and thankfully, my mother and aunt didn't feel ashamed or upset because of it. A significant part of her family practically disowned her, though. Now this makes me fucking mad, because no one was there to help, but to judge. After all of that, my grandmother and mom managed to build a very good life and gave me a lot of opportunities, and to this day I say 'fuck you' to that part of the family who just made my grandma's life harder."
15. "Mom still is one and has been my whole life. I'm still kinda young (18), so I don't think I grasp it very well, but it's embarrassing and I hate that I look so much like her. Even though I cut ties with her, I've run into older men who recognize me because of my mom. My boyfriend is a tattoo artist and he tattoos old 'clients' of my mom who used to give me money for Christmas when I was a kid. I just feel like I can never get away from her."
16. "My mom was a sex worker before I was born. ... She never hid the fact that she was one when I was old enough to understand what sex work was. Doesn't change a thing for me. She's still my mom who sacrificed everything to keep me well fed. Still love her with all my heart."
17. "My aunt was a sex worker, but, like, self-employed. Honestly, she did what she had to do to survive. I think it takes a tremendous amount of character to make it by whatever means, and she did, so I'm proud of her in a way."
18. "My mom did work for about a week when I was 10. ... I guess my dad's boss was about to retire and was really into my mom's body type, and to celebrate, paid her $4,500 over the course of a week to basically manhandle him and peg him. He gave my dad $2,500 as hush money because that being leaked to the community could've ruined him, even though he was retiring. Quite a bit of money for us at the time, almost life-changing. We got a newish used car, paid off old rent debt, went to the water park, and both my siblings and I got a ton of new school clothes. I feel no shame in it, especially since my parents agreed as a married couple and as adults to do it."
19. "It fucked me up majorly. I spent my puberty either listening to my mother having phone sex in the next room, or servicing clients extremely loudly when she thought I was asleep. ... She was really into the fetish scene, so did it for that reason rather than needing the money or anything more 'noble.' I am the victim here in what many people have described as sexual abuse."
20. "Eh, she ended up a defense attorney. When she did what she did, it was before me and before the age of video everywhere. The only way I know is her sisters tell me and tell me not to tell her."
21. "I'm from a country where sex work is legal, so my experience might be different from others. At first, my mother was working freelance, but later on she opened her own place. ... Her place got quite famous and she got a lot of requests from media. She appeared on national television a couple times and she got recognized quite often for a short while. How do I feel about it? As her son, it was difficult at the beginning to accept this kind of thing, but she was always honest about the environment in which she was working to reassure me that she was always safe and doing it on her own terms. It is such a strange experience, but one day, it just became completely normal to me. Business is business. My family is otherwise normal, so normal it would be considered boring for most."
You can read the full thread of responses on Reddit.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity. This post also uses the term "sex work" in place of "prostitution," following the recommendations of many in the industry.